“Why not?” is sometimes the absolute best reason to visit a place, but it can also be the absolute worst reason to make a random side trip to a country you know nothing about. “Why not?” took me to Luxembourg for a weekend, and if those two words brought you to Luxembourg City as well, then this guide is a good intro for what to do next:
Hop on, hop off.
I did literally no research before arriving in Luxembourg beyond booking an Airbnb for myself and my travel companion Rosalie. We were only there for the “why not” factor and had no idea what the attractions were. In these scenarios a hop-on hop-off bus tour can be the way to go: it takes you past the big sights, tells you a bit about history and culture, and serves as transportation all in one price (in this case, 12 euros for 24 hours).
Generally I hate this tour format because there’s not much opportunity for roaming or interaction, however it did orient us to the city a bit and was a good overview of what sights we could explore later in the day. The bus tour served as our research time, but if you’ve done some research it’s probably an unnecessary expense because the audio isn’t super descriptive and the bus may not even go to the places you really want to visit.
If you do choose to go with the hop-on hop-off tour, the following recommendations are along that route.
Get your art on.
Have you figured out yet how much I like modern art? One of my favorite things about modern art museums is that often the building is just as beautiful as the exhibits, and MUDAM (Musée D’Art Moderne) is no exception. I.M. Pei (yes, the architect who designed the pyramidal entrance of the Louvre) is responsible for the building’s stunning open environment and large windows.
When you enter the museum, you’re greeted by face-like sculptures by Tony Cragg that remind me a lot of Dalí’s surrealist melting motif in The Persistence of Memory, but downstairs was my favorite exhibit.
Hard to Picture: A Tribute to Ad Reinhardt is a series of illustrations from the 1930s that turned political and social issues into art–of course, many of these issues are still lingering and his cartoons ring true today. Even Rosalie, who swears she can’t stand modern art, loved this exhibit.
Other highlights of MUDAM included a tiny Gothic cathedral, a room filled with Cards Against Humanity-style papers (that I tripped over and ripped slightly…whoops) and beanbag chairs, and the fountain filled with ink rather than water. The whole thing was gorgeous and thought-provoking to walk through.
Get your pray on.
It was hot the weekend we were in Luxembourg City, so we ducked into the Cathedrale Notre Dame to rest for a bit, but it turned out to have lovely arches and stained glass that made our break truly beautiful.
Get your play on.
Towards the end of the hop-on-hop-off route we passed a park that had a pirate ship play structure and decided we had to go there in the afternoon. We didn’t know what it was called, but luckily Google knows everything and a quick “pirate ship park Luxembourg” search got us there after the tour finished. We squeezed into a circular hammock-like swing (I’m not convinced it was made for two people) and spent a few hours just chatting and watching Luxembourgish children play pirate ship. It was a super relaxing way to end the day and see a local hub of culture.
Get your leave on.
Maybe there’s more to do in Luxembourg than just this, but our overall impression of LC is that it’s not necessarily worth the trip. The art museum was lovely and I adored the pirate ship park, but the city overall has a mundane, corporate/governmental feel that didn’t excite us.
We loved how city buses are all free (after being confused about how to buy a ticket, we learned that they don’t even exist), we hated how grocery stores aren’t a thing (you have to stop at a bakery, a butcher, a fruit stand, etc.), and we were amused by how multilingual everyone is (four or so languages apiece).
If EU politics thrills you, Luxembourg is perhaps more enticing, but I’m not even sure what we would’ve done with a second day in LC. There are only so many office buildings one can see before itching to depart.
That said, if you’ve got the time and the funds, you can take our original approach: why not?
If you liked this post, you may also like my one-day travel guide to Copenhagen.